* Mobile phone connections fall 242,000 in September
* Telefonica and Vodafone see the biggest declines
MADRID Nov 8 A quarter of a million Spaniards
ditched their mobile phones in September, with Telefonica
and Vodafone bearing the brunt of cancellations
by recession-hit consumers.
Spain's telecoms watchdog said on Thursday mobile phone
connections fell 242,000 in the month, the eighth consecutive
decline in a country at the forefront of the euro zone debt
crisis and where one in four of the workforce is unemployed.
The decline is bigger than the 226,000 connections cancelled
in August, though below April's record of 380,000.
Since September, both Telefonica and Vodafone have announced
cheaper tariffs in an escalating price war between Spanish
Many cash-strapped consumers have been switching from big
players like Telefonica's Movistar to smaller firms offering
cheaper deals like Teliasonera's Yoigo.
"In line with previous months, the declines registered by
Movistar and Vodafone were not outweighed by the increases at
other mobile operators," the regulator CMT said in a statement.
Customers cut off 254,000 Movistar connections, while
Vodafone noted a decline of 178,000. Yoigo gained 40,000 new
customers, while France Telecom's Orange attracted
25,000 new mobile clients.
Telefonica and Vodafone had used Spain as a testing ground
for scrapping smartphone subsidies and stopped offering
customers cut-price or free phones earlier this year.
Vodafone said this week it would bring back subsidies,
leaving Telefonica as the only player on the market not offering
customers discount handsets on a general basis.
Telefonica, the biggest telecoms company in Europe by
revenue, reported nine-month results on Wednesday that showed
Spain was a drag on the business, with total customers in its
home market down 7.5 percent in the third quarter.
Telefonica launched a "Fusion" package last month, bundling
fixed line, mobile, internet and television services in a bid to
fight off competition from low-cost rivals.
Telefonica Europe head Eva Castillo said 430,000 customers
had signed up for Fusion but declined to say how many came from
the company's existing customer base. She vowed the company
would not reintroduce subsidies.
Smaller rival Jazztel last month offered a
smartphone worth more than 200 euros for 5 euros a month if
clients took a combined fixed and mobile package.